Marketing Menu: Oatmeal Is Boring

October 18, 2016

Imagine if you had to plan a meal to please the masses. If it was breakfast, you’d likely have to settle on oatmeal. Plain oatmeal.

When everyone has a vote, a lot gets deleted from the option list, and you land on what is least objectionable to everyone. Sure, each person gets fed, but most walk away dissatisfied.

The same reality exists when it comes to evaluating creative elements of a marketing plan — advertising, logos, new website visuals, collateral materials. If you’ve been in marketing for any amount of time, you’ve seen the plain beige that results from group-driven decision making. It can get ugly, literally.

On the flip side, you’ve also likely witnessed the creative disasters that can result when there is one person who insists their vote overrides all others and their choice is driven by personal opinion. Back to my breakfast analogy, you might avoid being stuck with plain oatmeal, but a jalapeño egg casserole that pleases only one voter’s palate can be equally disappointing.jalapeno-flipped

The best way to handle both these scenarios? Although many marketers resort to locking the boardroom door and rushing through decisions in private, the best move is to very publicly throw personal decisions to the wayside and faithfully follow already-defined brand parameters. This requires a very deliberate, customer-focused approach. It requires constant review of what you, as a group, already agreed to for brand personality, positioning and voice. Until it becomes second nature for everyone, it is important to review your brand parameters each and every time you look at creative. If you don’t, it can be incredibly easy to get lost in the fog of “I like this; I don’t like that.”

It does not matter what you like. Nor does everyone in the room need to like the same thing.”

This disciplined approach also assures that you don’t end up with a disjointed array of options that look great independently, but don’t reinforce one another with any cohesiveness. In addition, it protects your brand from the common danger of changing campaigns or brand visuals too often. This typically happens because people at the company become bored with the creative and are eager for a change. Yet you must remember that your target sees your marketing materials a mere fraction of the time your coworkers do. Just as your colleagues get bored, it’s likely the customer is only beginning to recognize your efforts. If you keep switching things up for your own amusement, you’ll never break through.

So here’s the reality every marketer and every person reviewing creative must remember: It does not matter what you like. Nor does everyone in the room need to like the same thing. It only matters what works for your brand. You are not the target market. You shouldn’t have a “vote,” only insight as to what you professionally believe will best communicate your brand. That’s it. No more bland oatmeal; just serve up what the customer wants.

Can you say, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner?”

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